May 03 2012

Letter to the Editor: There Is No “Perfect”

It appears after more than three years of what has been a long and winding journey toward building a new SIES, tangible, measurable progress is happening. The demolition of the old building is underway, and the design has been completed and approved by SITC (Sullivan’s Island Town Council).

The new twist being sold by the “small school” people is disingenuous at best, misleading at worst. They are now telling people “the Town can In fact get a waiver to have a smaller school.”  Well, let me tell you it’s a fantasy. First, the State Superintendent said this is a local issue and second, CCSD (Charleston County School District) has stated they will not do this.  In fact, 7 of the 9 Trustees made it clear at the last CCSD Trustee meeting on April 23 that 500 is the number or it’s zero.

Also, Bill Lewis (CCSD Director of Construction) went on record and said the district cannot build a “boutique” school with taxpayer money on Sullivan’s Island. They shouldn’t, and shame on the “smaller school” folks for confusing people with misleading information when our Town leaders and the majority of CCSD has said all along this was not a possibility. Why do they want to risk NO school with this foolish fantasy? It is a good question.  Maybe they really want NO school as others who want the school have suspected.

The parents and supporters of SIES on this island and off are tired of the “smaller school” people feigning victim and selling fantasy when the facts are right in front for all of us to see.  If you really do
not want a school on the island, please come out and say so. Continuing to argue for something that cannot occur is an unproductive distraction and is wrong.

Additionally, if the “smaller school” people refuse to actively participate in the design process, but complain about height, scale, and mass in endless public meetings, they are obstructionists – nothing more.  There is no perfect.  There has been, however, a very public engagement process that has resulted in an excellent design reviewed by Historic Charleston Foundation, and two leaders of SI’s Design Review Board.

We are moving forward on this project and as a community, the supporters of SIES will stand behind our Town leaders and CCSD to make sure this gets done on time and as agreed to in the lease.  My message and the message from many islanders is to stop the reckless rhetoric, stop complaining without offering solutions, and try to be a positive influence on our island – not a destructive one.  We will not heal as a
community until the “smaller school” people stop twisting the truth and ignoring reality.  The path to community peace is paved in truth not deception, participation not complaining, and being honest about motives.

The supporters of SIES recently handed out stickers that say “Save and Share SIES.”  This is a message we are proud to sell, it’s honest and it’s more reflective of who we are as a community. We welcome children from everywhere to learn here.  We appreciate the taxpayers investing in our community on land that has held a school for half a century.  We want to continue a tradition of excellence in public education.  We hope these children and their families will in turn give something back, as they see how caring and welcoming we are to them and their families, as they experience “learning by the sea.”

Loren Ziff
Thompson Ave.
Sullivan’s Island


    • Josephine Humphreys on May 4, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Mr. Ziff, I’m not guilty of any of the charges you are making here. I’m not feigning or selling. I’m not secretly opposed to education or to an island school. I’m not reckless, deceptive, complaining, or dishonest,and I’m entirely in favor of sharing our school with children from other communities. I do honestly think the building that’s planned for the island is too big and too expensive.

    • Loren Ziff on May 8, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Thanks Josephine, I appreciate your candor and your perspective. I and many others would love to have a smaller school, however that is defined. But, it is not an option for us. We, as a community, have to decide if having a 500 student school is better than having no school. I and many other fellow residents prefer a 500 student school to no school. Additionally, this has been debated ad nausea, our Council has listened and voted (Unanimous resolutions in support of a 500 person school in Jan 2010, April, 2011). CCSD has also listened and voted. The proposed referendum is deficient and is really a vote for no school, as a 33,000 SF building cannot hold 500 students. When is enough, enough? What you may not see are the efforts of the small school group to kill the school under the false pretense of wanting something they can’t have. They have spoken, they have been heard and they have lost. It is simply time to move on and make this building as great as it can be. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint and for caring.

    • Josephine Humphreys on May 8, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    I have indeed seen the efforts of the small school supporters, as I’m one of them. But not once have I have ever witnessed any of the traits or behavior you are describing. To tell you the truth, I’ve been inspired by these folks — by their optimism, their character, and their courage to speak out despite the vilification that comes back at them, some of which has been outrageous.

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